Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

"Успех должен измеряться не столько положением, которого человек достиг в жизни, сколько теми препятствиями, которые ему пришлось преодолеть на пути к успеху." Букер Т. Вашингтон ©
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The recent downturn in tourism is a double blow for Africa’s safari camps and lodges, many of which play a key role in protecting some of the world’s most endangered species. The upside? If you’re stuck at home fuelling your wanderlust with plans for post-isolation travel, there’s never been a better reason to make your next adventure a safari. Here are 10 fantastic camps and lodges which allow guests to give back.

  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Mara Bushtops, Maasai Mara, Kenya

    Many African safari camps claim that a chunk of each guest’s payment supports good causes, but in reality, the amount is often miniscule. Not so at Mara Bushtops, which can be found in a 15,000-acre conservancy leased by Maasai locals. The conservation fee of about £40, which is paid by guests, goes directly to the owners, ensuring the place’s protection while giving Maasai space to graze their animals. Guests can also support several schemes including the Nkoilale School Project, through which Mara Bushtops sponsors 70 students. Local Maasai are also employed as guides. We recommend one of the fire-making masterclasses; sign up for one and you’ll – hopefully – never need matches again.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Earth Lodge, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, South Africa

    One hundred per cent of each guest’s conservation fee goes directly to the Sabi Sabi Foundation support a range of projects relating to wildlife preservation and training. Earth Lodge is one of four camps in the reserve, and Sabi Sabi operates a number of other fantastic initiatives, including an educational programme created to improve the maths and literacy skills of local children, and the Chefs Cooking Programme, which gives school leavers the chance to hone their kitchen skills during a year-long training module at Sabi Sabi’s lodges.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Noka Camp, Limpopo, South Africa

    This is one of the few safari camps in Africa that is entirely not for profit, in South Africa’s wildlife-filled Limpopo province. A visit is the perfect way to offset any travel-related guilt pangs – the carbon footprint created by every guest, from the moment they leave home, is added up, converted into a monetary figure and donated to one of three conservation schemes, such as the Community Stove Project, which provides the local community with high-efficiency cookers, reducing the wood used by each household by almost three tonnes per year and helping to lower emissions, save trees and improve the health of locals.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Lewa Safari Camp, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya

    Splash out on a stay at Elewana Collection’s Lewa Safari Camp and you can offset your guilt with the knowledge that your holiday is supporting fantastic causes, including various schemes funded by Elewana’s Land & Life Foundation, from training conservationists or providing local schools with essential supplies. There are also multiple opportunities to get involved – guests can visit communities that have benefited from donations, or join the Lewa Conservancy’s anti-poaching dog unit for a training session. Apparently the star of the show is Ruby, a bloodhound who’s especially good at sniffing out illegal ivory.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Omaanda, Zannier Reserve, Namibia

    Lots of safari operators have set up guest-funded projects, but the N/a’an ku sê Foundation, created by Zannier Hotels’ Omaanda lodge, is one of the best. Set up to protect the 9,000-hectare Zannier Reserve, it has transformed the area’s fortunes in several ways: with the reintroduction of endemic species such as white rhinos, elephants and caracals; by covering the feeding and care costs of rescued animals that can’t be released into the wild; and by funding research schemes which have turned this beautiful part of Namibia into one of the country’s most important sanctuaries for endangered and rare creatures.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Ruhengeri, Rwanda

    This Rwandan retreat – one of the best places to spot gorillas in the country – supports both primate conservation and locals. A hefty proportion of guest payments goes directly to the community trust that owns the lodge, and to date more than £2 million has been spent on various local projects, directly benefiting around 5,800 households. Visitors are also encouraged to think outside the box when it comes to supporting good causes – one guest recently provided funds for a local family to build their own house, while another donated 10 cows to a nearby community.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

    All profits generated by guests at Samara Private Game Reserve help to support initiatives that protect the wildlife and local communities. But visitors give back in more than a monetary sense – each one is given a cutting of spekboom – a local plant known for its ability to offset carbon emissions and prevent soil erosion – which they are invited to plant on one of the reserve’s land rehabilitation projects. There’s also a brilliant range of activities for those keen to learn more about the various projects, including five-night conservation journeys focusing on camera-trap monitoring, land rehabilitation and anti-poaching.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Bomani Tented Lodge, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

    Imvelo Safari Lodges operates several Zimbabwean camps, and some of the operator’s most important conservation work – funded largely by guests’ contributions – is done in Hwange National Park, where a lack of natural water sources poses a problem for wildlife during the dry-season months. Or at least it did, until Imvelo set up its pioneering Water for Hwange programme, installing more than 15 water pumps throughout the park. Imvelo doesn’t just provide water for the wildlife, either – it recently installed boreholes for use by local villages, and there are plans to solar power many of the park’s pumps, reducing both maintenance fees and fuel costs.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Wilderness Safaris Mombo Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

    A generous portion of each guest fee goes directly to one of the huge number of Africa-based conservation programmes supported by the operator’s Wilderness Wildlife Trust – whether it’s Hwange National Park’s anti-poaching unit or Namibia’s Desert Lion Conservation Project. Our favourite is the Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project, run in partnership with the Botswana Government. Founded in 2000, the scheme has resulted in the re-establishment of a healthy white- and black-rhino population in the Okavango Delta. These rhinos – which can be spotted by guests staying at Mombo Camp – are protected by an anti-poaching unit that Wilderness supports and donates to.

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  • Why now’s the perfect time to plan a safari holiday

    Ila Safari Lodge, Kafue National Park, Zambia

    We love Ila Safari Lodge, one of several properties owned by Green Safaris, for various reasons. Firstly, it’s one of the most sustainable safari destinations – a solar-powered lodge with a main boma built from sandbags. Drives are done in Zambia’s first eLandy (an electric Land Rover), and there’s an electric boat for ‘silent safaris’ along the Kafue River. Every guest’s presence supports Green Safaris Conservation Foundation projects, whether it’s the sponsorship of a firefighting unit or a community farm that provides the local Nalusanga community with extra income. It’s another lodge that allows visitors to get involved with its schemes. Our favourite is the farm’s organic fertiliser project: tasks guests can help with include the stirring of the drums filled with homemade fertiliser, produced with the help of 1,000 hungry worms.

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